Missy Elliott On Speaking Her Dreams Into Existence: Everything I Spoke, I’ve Done & That’s How Powerful The Tongue Is
Melissa Arnette Elliott, better known as Missy Elliott, is back and better than ever! On the heels of her honorary doctorate degree from Berklee College of Music, she recently discussed her 20-plus year legacy, speaking her career into existence, and her anticipated seventh album.
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She says that she’s known she wanted to be in the music industry since she was in kindergarten.
“This is why you have to listen to kids. I knew what I wanted. I remember [telling my classmates], ‘I’m going to be a superstar,’ and the whole class would bust out laughing…I wonder, do those kids remember me? Because I remember all of them. I have a picture, and I remember their names. They would laugh because it just seemed impossible.”
Missy shares that her family suggested she pursue a more practical career after years of pursuing music.
“Trust me, I was broke. And my family would be like, ‘You better find something to do.’ They told me to go in the Army. I’m like, ‘I’m too fat to go in the Army. Where I am running to?’ Everything just seemed so impossible at the time because we didn’t have the technology to be able to reach out and put your stuff online and people get a chance to see it. So you have to be at the right place at the right time.”
Missy Elliott credits the power of the tongue for bringing her dreams to fruition.
“…everything I spoke, I’ve done. And that’s how powerful the tongue is. I used to sit in the house and act like I was having conversations with Janet and Michael and Madonna and whoever. I then would go and say my thank yous for award shows that I hadn’t made it to yet. I had speeches, and I would be in the mirror thanking my mama.”
She continued, detailing that she declared she would buy her mother a lavish home.
“I told my mother, ‘I’m going to buy you a house, and I’m going to buy you an elevator incase your legs start hurting.’ And she would laugh and be like, ‘All right, okay.’ But when I got my first check, I didn’t even buy myself a house first. I bought my mother a house. Put a Bible in the soil and built it from the ground up.”
The hip-hop and R&B veteran says her friends encouraged her to make her upcoming seventh album.
“I was just going, going, going, [and] it wasn’t resonating what was happening. After I did the Super Bowl, my friends called me and they are like, ‘So, what you about to do?’ I’m here mopping my floor, and I got to wash the dogs. And they are like, ‘What? You just finished doing the Super Bowl.’ And the same thing happened…I was in the car with Michelle Obama, and they called me like, ‘Girl, we got to celebrate; that’s huge!’ And I’m like, ‘I’m watching a movie on Netflix.’ Now that I’ve had a chance to slow down, I look back at stuff, and I look back at my ‘She’s a Bitch’ video, and at the time I didn’t even think about it. But I look at it now and I’m like, ‘This is still so many years ahead.’”
While she and the Super Friends (Timbaland, Tweet, Ginuwine, Magoo, and others) were in the “Basement” – a development camp led by Jodeci’s Devante Swing – they weren’t permitted to listen to the radio or watch TV to create their own sound.
“When we were up in Rochester, we didn’t listen to the radio, we didn’t watch videos, so we didn’t hear nor see. We created a sound that we didn’t even know we were creating. It’s just that we didn’t know what was hot, so we just was creating music. I wish I could get back to that space of not seeing or hearing, because when you see and hear, you start to concentrate, and then you are afraid to try something new because it don’t sound like anything else.”
She shares what she wants her legacy to be.
“Whenever God decides to call, I want to have that legacy of being able, not just music or videos that people thought were great. Mary [J. Blige], Faith [Evans], Puff [Sean Combs], all of them taught me so many things. I want to be that person that people say, ‘Hey, Missy said she did it like this.’ If a billionaire told me they read 400 books to become a billionaire, I’m going, ‘Where is the Barnes & Noble at? Let me get 400 books.’ And just giving wisdom, because that blessing don’t come for you, like my grandma said, to keep it for yourself. It is to share. And hopefully I have done that. I do want to make the generation behind feel like, don’t be afraid, because we are in a time where so many people can be artists. Now you can just post up, and if it gets to the right person, then it’s just viral. I want to be able to encourage those who don’t go viral. A lot of people out there that have 452 or 100 followers may be talented. I want them to not feel like they have to do what everybody else is doing to gain that attention. Just be you. It’s going to catch hold somewhere.”
Written by Miata Shanay